arena Swim of the Week: Ella Ramsay Drops Big For 4:36.94 400 IM At Aussie Open

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Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

Australian teenager Ella Ramsay has been knocking on the door of entering the upper echelon of the world’s medley swimmers for the last few years, and had a breakthrough swim on Thursday with less than two months to go until the Olympic Trials.

Ramsay dropped a time of 4:36.94 in the 400 IM at the Australian Open Championships in Queensland, knocking more than two and a half seconds off her personal best time and putting her firmly in the hunt for a berth on the Olympic team later this year.

The 19-year-old, who will turn 20 prior to the Games in July, came into the 2023-24 season with a personal best of 4:39.96, set at the 2023 Australina Trials where she missed a spot on the World Championship team by three-tenths, with Kiah Melverton (4:39.65) snagging the second spot behind Jenna Forrester (4:34.89).

Ramsay was actually third in three races at that meet, also finishing in that spot in the 200 breast and 200 IM, but does have some Worlds experience under her belt from 2022 when she made the team in the 200 IM.

The Chandler Swim Club product has been steadily progressing in the 400 IM.

She won gold at the 2021 Australian Age Championships in 4:47.28, was 4:44.59 at the 2022 Australian Championships to place fifth, and then had a big drop last year to get under 4:40.

In November, she reset her best time in 4:39.51 at the Japan Open, and continued her progression this week with another big drop.

Her swim at the Aussie Open showed a continuation in an evolution of her strategy—she was significantly faster on breaststroke, but also seemed to build through each individual 100 (especially the first three) more so than she did last year.

Between the second 50 of fly, back and breast, Ramsay combined to be 3.20 seconds faster than she was at the 2023 Australian Trials. She showed signs of this strategy at the Japan Open, but managed to execute it even better at the Aussie Open.

Split Comparison

Ramsay, 2023 Aussie Trials Ramsay, 2023 Japan Open
Ramsay, 2024 Aussie Open
28.94 28.91 29.39
1:03.02 (34.08) 1:02.47 (33.56) 1:03.01 (33.62)
1:39.71 (36.69) 1:38.58 (36.11) 1:39.51 (36.50)
2:15.97 (36.26) 2:14.26 (35.68) 2:14.73 (35.22)
2:55.58 (39.61) 2:54.04 (39.78) 2:53.12 (38.39)
3:35.80 (40.22) 3:33.88 (39.84) 3:31.64 (38.52)
4:09.11 (33.31) 4:07.49 (33.61) 4:05.09 (33.45)
4:39.96 (30.85) 4:39.51 (32.02) 4:36.94 (31.85)

Ramsay is now the seventh-fastest Australian performer in history, and with Kaylee McKeown not planning on racing the event at the Olympics, she’s now the frontrunner for the second spot in the event in Paris behind Forrester. The only other active swimmer who has been faster than Ramsay is Melverton, who went 4:36.78 at the Commonwealth Games in the summer of 2022 but hasn’t been sub-4:39.5 outside of that lone swim (the same can be said for Ramsay, but she has age and upward trajectory on her side).

All-Time Australian Performers, Women’s 400 IM (LCM)

  1. Kaylee McKeown, 4:28.22 – 2024 Australian Open
  2. Stephanie Rice, 4:29.45 – 2008 Olympic Games
  3. Jenna Forrester, 4:32.30 – 2023 World Championships
  4. Blair Evans, 4:35.26 – 2016 Australian Olympic Trials
  5. Keryn McMaster, 4:36.35 – 2014 Commonwealth Games
  6. Kiah Melverton, 4:36.78 – 2022 Commonwealth Games
  7. Ella Ramsay, 4:36.94 – 2024 Australian Open
  8. Samantha Hamill, 4:37.84 – 2009 World Championships
  9. Tessa Wallace, 4:38.13 – 2015 Australian Nationals
  10. Jennifer Reilly, 4:38.62 – 2006 Australian Nationals

On the first day of the meet, Ramsay set a personal best time of 2:10.71 in the 200 IM, and on Friday, she added another PB in the 200 breast, clocking 2:26.34.

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About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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